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Friday, November 21, 2014


Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published 38 romance and mystery novels, including the Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter Mysteries and Pet Rescue Mysteries as well as stories for Harlequin Romantic Suspense and paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne.  Her latest cozy mystery series, the Superstition Mysteries debuted in October. Learn more about Linda and her books at her website and blog.

Superstitions and Writing

My fingers are crossed that you enjoy this blog post.  Why?  Because I write the Superstition Mysteries!

My first Superstition Mystery is Lost Under a Ladder, an October 2014 release.  In it, protagonist Rory Chasen is a superstition agnostic.  She isn't sure she wants to believe in them, but she needs closure after the loss of her fiancĂ©, who died after walking under a ladder.  Rory therefore goes to Destiny, California, which is all about superstitions.  She brings her black and white dog Pluckie along... and Pluckie almost immediately senses an ill woman at the back of the Lucky Dog Boutique and saves her life.  The woman, Martha, knows she'll be fine, since she's sure that black and white dogs are lucky!  Soon, Martha asks Rory to stay and run the Lucky Dog for her while she gets better.

And when Martha becomes a murder suspect, Rory has to help her--of course.  Meanwhile, Rory the skeptic is surrounded by sidewalks with cracks that the tourists must avoid while picking up lucky heads-up pennies.  She stays at the Rainbow B&B and visits stores and restaurants like the Broken Mirror Bookstore, the Heads-Up Penny Gift Shop, the Apple-A-Day Cafe, and the Shamrock Steakhouse as well as the Break-A-Leg Theater.

Yep, the town is full of superstitions.  And I've had a whole lot of fun researching them.

Some of the research I've done involves superstitions of writers--of course, since I'm a writer.  Am I superstitious?  Well, I've become a lot more aware of superstitions since I started this series.  I've always knocked on wood a bit as well as crossed my fingers.  To me, though, 13 has always seemed a lucky number despite the taint on it.

What are some superstitions that involve writing?

Well, some writers will not end a story on Chapter 13.   Others--or sometimes the same writers--cannot have 13 pages in a chapter.  Still others must end each chapter on an odd  --or even--page number, whichever works for them. 

Some writers must write something every day, even if it's just one word.  Others have a special pen that they must use to sign all snail mail letters and contracts or whatever.  Then there's the superstition that they can only use one pencil for writing or editing per manuscript.  Sometimes they'll break that pencil when they're done with that particular manuscript.

Some writers must sit down at their desks at the same time every day.  Or drink the same kind of coffee from the same cup.  Or wear a particular piece of clothing--a jacket, slippers, or whatever--all the time while writing.

Some must have a cat around, or several.  Me?  I've got my two dogs.  Are they lucky?  Yes, I think so.  They're also distracting since they have me trained to get up a lot to take them outside--and feed them treats.  But they're there for me and inspire me, so, yes, they're lucky for me.

What happens if superstitious writers fail to follow their superstitions?  They don't want to find out!  Perhaps their writing will be terrible, and/or will be buried in a slush pile and fail to attract an agent or sell to a publisher--and if it is published, readers will hate it. 

How do some superstitious writers choose characters' names?  One superstition is that they'd better not have the same initials as someone the writer knows or that person will be doomed to bad luck. 

There are writers who refuse to eat anything sweet, and may choose to eat something totally sour when they're writing about the villains in their stories, or those villains might wind up as likeable characters.

And if some writers are traveling, they might not get a whole lot done because they believe their best work can only be achieved at their usual work station and computer.  Can they transfer the luck by memory stick to a laptop or tablet?  That depends on their superstition!

So... if you're a writer or know one, please share any writing superstitions with me.  It'll surely bring you good luck.  I'm knocking on wood now to ensure that's true.

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Kathleen Kaska said...

Great topic, Linda! Before I leave the house, I make sure I'm wearing my wristband with the quote "Writers Write: Always." Best of luck with your new series. I'll put it on my list!

Sandy Cody said...

What a fun post. Your series sounds delightful. Good luck with it. A superstition from me? Afraid I don't have one. Maybe I should.

Ed Carroll said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ed Carroll said...

For me it was my old Cross pen, nothing else felt right and I would fidgit or play with it. 

Until I heard the Martha Grahm quote, "Where ever a dancer stands prepared and poised, that ground is sacred."

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, Kathleen. I love the idea of your wristband! And of course my fingers are crossed that you enjoy my new series.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, Sandy. And you don't necessarily need a superstition to have good luck... I hope!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I do like that quote, Ed. Do you still use your old Cross pen?

Robin Coxon said...

I must tell you your book cover won me over even before I knew what was between the covers. I have it on my Christmas list but would love for my family to buy it earlier for me. lol! My superstition is death comes in threes. It always seems to work out that way.

Sally Carpenter said...

This isn't a superstition, more of a habit or ritual. I bought myself a special refillable ink pen than I only use for writing the first drafts of my fiction (then I type it on my computer). It's a bright blue color to help me get motivated.

Angela Adams said...

Sounds like an enjoyable read. Thanks for the post!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, Robin. I love the cover, too. And you may be right about deaths in threes. That seems to happen to stars, at least.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Love your habit or whatever it is, Sally. And did you know that blue is a lucky color?

Linda O. Johnston said...

And thank you for commenting, Angela!

Melissa Keir said...

I don't know that I have a superstition for writing. I do have some in life. Most are just the way I act and think, rather than outside forces. After all, I've had a wonderful black cat and no bad luck!

Sandy said...

Your series sounds great, Linda. I've never been very superstitious. We've had two black cats, one Friday 13th my husband won $3700.00 dollars at a local casino, and I have intentionally walked under a ladder and nothing happened. Smile!

However, deaths happen in threes, but it doesn't really seem to be a superstition. It really does happen and usually in a matter of weeks.

Great topic!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Black cats are good luck in many countries, Melissa. Glad you've experienced that!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Sounds as if superstitions may work opposite for you, Sandy. I hope that continues!